TUNE IN: Powerful anti-wildlife trade film "Gambling on Extinction" airing in Canada

About three years ago I received a phone call from award-winning German documentary filmmaker Jakob Kneser.

It was shortly after the world had witnessed one of the most brutal mass slaughter of elephants in Bouba Njida National Park in Cameroon, where hundreds of elephants had been killed by poachers from Chad and Sudan.

They wiped out more than half of the parks’ elephant population in just a few weeks. Thanks to a dangerous mission by our French colleagues, IFAW took journalists to the site of the crime and drew worldwide attention to this horrible tragedy.

For years IFAW had been campaigning against the illegal ivory trade and poaching, but it was only then that many journalists and politicians started to realize what a severe crisis had developed, almost unnoticed.

Director Jakob Kneser had also read an article about the poaching crisis, and it shocked him so deeply that he decided that his next film had to be about wildlife crime. We met and talked about IFAW’s anti-poaching work, elephant and habitat projects, and our campaign against illegal wildlife trade.

Jakob met with several IFAW-experts from Kenya, South Africa, China, the US and Germany who shared their insights and expertise in a field that is, by nature, difficult to investigate. After all, we are talking about an illegal business with gigantic profits, that is run by global syndicates who don’t shrink from drastic measures to protect themselves and their deadly trade.

Several times filming had to be postponed, it was difficult to obtain the necessary budget, even though 16 international TV-stations had already signed on. It is sad to see how difficult it is for documentary filmmakers to be able to realize such important projects.

Finally filming started and the crew worked with IFAW-staff in China, Kenya and the US. Grace Gabriel, director of IFAW-China, appears in the film as an important voice from one of the main consumer countries for ivory and rhino horn.

This important film sheds a light on a cruel business that usually operates in the dark. It is shocking and revealing and leaves you with no doubt that urgent and extremely strong measures need to be taken globally if we want this massacre to end.

As someone in the film says: “It is a war and we are losing it!”

Wildlife continues to need our help.


The film will have its Canadian broadcast premiere on February 26 (Animal Planet, 10PM EST) and February 28 (CTV W5, 7PM EST).

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
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